Role of Glutamate and NMDA Receptors in Alzheimer's Disease

Rui Wang, P (Hemachandra) Reddy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

89 Scopus citations


Excitatory glutamatergic neurotransmission via N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) is critical for synaptic plasticity and survival of neurons. However, excessive NMDAR activity causes excitotoxicity and promotes cell death, underlying a potential mechanism of neurodegeneration occurred in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Studies indicate that the distinct outcomes of NMDAR-mediated responses are induced by regionalized receptor activities, followed by different downstream signaling pathways. The activation of synaptic NMDARs initiates plasticity and stimulates cell survival. In contrast, the activation of extrasynaptic NMDARs promotes cell death and thus contributes to the etiology of AD, which can be blocked by an AD drug, memantine, an NMDAR antagonist that selectively blocks the function of extrasynaptic NMDARs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1041-1048
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • excitotoxicity
  • extrasynaptic NMDA receptors
  • glutamate
  • memantine
  • NMDA receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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